To Inoo, My Prince

You should’ve turned eight yesterday, my love. I should’ve made a cake for you. I was saving the carob for yesterday, because dogs can’t have chocolate, and Chloe Coscarelli has this recipe for pupcakes I was dying for you to try. But I didn’t bake. I didn’t even cook your favorites. I don’t know, my prince. Not a lot of things interest me anymore since you flew to heaven. Most of the time I dread going home because you wouldn’t be there to welcome me. Or waking up because I wouldn’t be seeing you anyway. Truth is, I also find it hard to pray because I’m still secretly angry at God for not letting you live for 200 years when that’s all I was asking for. I hate our resident priest, too, you know, because he said dogs can’t love so I shouldn’t love you. The only beautiful thing that’s happening now is Uncle Francis. He takes care of mawmaw as you asked. He still includes you in our prayers. Does God tell you? The rest I don’t really care about.

I’m wondering, my love, when do I move on? But more importantly, do I really want to move on? Do I want that, to not miss you anymore? To slowly forget? I remember someone saying how our pain is self-inflicted. This could be. But I wouldn’t want this any other way.

I want to remember you forever. If that means I’d mourn for you forever, I want that, too. I love you.

Do you remember these pictures? These were when you jumped on the bed and let me hug you until I fell asleep. For the last time. 

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Generation Represent: Early 2000s

Thanks to Boy Scout’s packing genius, all my bags are packed; I’m ready to go to Cagayan de Oro tomorrow.

Well, at least I was until I saw this advisory from the organizer of the summer conference I’m attending that says, “Don’t forget to bring your PRC ID and Your Generation Represent! socials night attire” and I was like:

ūüėģūüėĮūüė≤ūüė®ūüė°

In that particular order.

Gahhhhd I hate surprises. 1) I didn’t know they’re throwing a socials night. (Who invented this trend in seminars anyway? How about some consideration for the introverts, yes?) 2) What am going to wear? For someone with a lack of a decent wardrobe, this is torture. (As if thinking of attire for the entire conference isn’t torture enough.) And 3) Which generation do I belong to?

Considering my concerns, of course, are equally important, let me focus on the 3rd: the generation question. The most considerate thing about the organizer is the footnote that says, “Attire: summer get up with a touch of the generation where you spent your adolescent life.” Good. Now my search is delimited.

I then Googled “adolescent” – ikr – and found out for the first time ever that it usually means somewhere between 13 and 19.

Okay. Great. Now I know that would be between 2001 and 2007. All I could think of was Slam Dunk and Meteor Garden and The Ring. Apparently I spent my adolescence fangirling over anime, East Asian boys, and learning Nihongo that I have no idea what else had been happening around me all those years. (Unless I’d considering reminding everybody of the 9/11 bombings by donning Osama Bin Laden or George W. Bush. This is not a joke, btw.)

My first thought was to just braid my hair a la Shan Cai. But since I’d mocha-ed my hair last month, I might end up looking like Britney Spears. Or if I put on a pink backpack like Dao Ming Si’s obsession, I’d look like Dora the Explorer.

Slam Dunk’s Ayako was my second choice. After all, I used to dream I was her back in my entire high school to early college days. But it’s a hassle to find a cap, plain pink shirt, and blur cycling shorts. And if I did Ayako I’d have to bring basketball and a whistle and find myself a Ryota Miyagi. No, I had to remind myself that this isn’t a cosplay competition. (Plus I kinda promised Boy Scout I won’t even look at guys there.)

So… I spent like thirty minutes of my precious time cracking my skull about what I would wear.

But for me summer is shorts and white shirt.

Then it dawned on me. Like an avalanche I remembered spending all those lunchtimes (and lunch money) with my friend Joymarie over Optichat. NASL. Lol. Lmao. Btw. Otw. I was an adolescent when I learned them.

From that memory, the emoticons – emojis for you kids. Back then I can read faces via colons, hyphens, commas, exes, etc. There was even a time – specifically when the epic peyups.com was still up – that my favorite emoticon was [colon][no space][type in “rolleyes”][no space][colon]. (I had to write it¬†because it converts into ūüôĄ .)

And this is how I found what I was going to wear: the faces of early 2000s.

So, yeah. See you at Cagayan de Oro! B-)

P.S.

Btw, I checked the tentative program just to be sure and it wasn’t there. <Insert I-told-you-so emoji here.>

Oops. I meant emoticon. >:-D

Holy Week 2017: Kumpisalang Bayan

Am I weird? Because confession, reconciliation rather, excites me more than anything. I guess it began two years ago upon reading about St. Therese of Liseaux and how joyful she was at every opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation that she had prepared for it and talked to the priest as if he was Jesus and I thought I wanted to do it just like her. Sometimes I wish there were more schedules for confession – because I’m shy to ask the priests after mass – so I don’t have to wait for first Friday’s Holy Hour.

So is it still surprising that Holy Tuesday is my favorite day in Holy Week here at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker Parish? Every year on Holy Tuesday, priests from all over the Diocese of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija gather at the Cathedral to give the sacrament of reconciliation to the parishioners.

Yesterday indeed was full of grace. Everytime I come from confession I always feel lighter and happier. I hope more people go to confession. There really is nothing to be scared of at confession. After all, it is the time we know of God’s never ending and unconditional love for us sinners.
‚̧

Feast of the Sto. Ni√Īo + Prayer

Yesterday, January 15th, the feast of the Sto.¬†Ni√Īo, my family celebrated piyesta¬†for the first time. ¬†I’m glad that my family, especially Mama, supported the idea that we give thanks for the guidance and protection of the Holy Child for the last seventeen years of living in the barangay¬†named after him.

I think the highest honor was to be given the privilege to say the group prayer before lunch. ¬†This is the prayer I wrote for the¬†Se√Īor:

Today, our Lord, we gather in honor of the child Jesus.

Our family has never thanked You before

for taking care of us all these years.

For our health,

for our safety,

for the people You send our way to reveal Your will.

As we look at Your image as a child,

we are reminded that this is Your will,

that before the eyes of the Father we shall remain as children –

always full of trust in Your love,

always in need of Your protection,

always believing Your Word.

Humble us always, dear God,

that we shall be a nation of Your children.

With hearts full of thanksgiving for the undeserved grace we receive,

we glorify You, oh God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

2016 Roundup + 2017 Goals

If there’s one thing this year taught me, it’s you shouldn’t sleep through New Year celebrations. ¬†I sulked in my room, embittered about how the world celebrates when I was miserable over the Lang Leav love I could never have. ¬†2016 started sad and it had been challenging since. ¬†Maybe believing how you start the year defines how the next twelve months go is a form of superstition, but I’m determined to leave all the bad vibes of 2016 behind and start 2017 in an exciting, happy, and positive note.

So here’s my 2016 roundup:

  • My presidential candidate didn’t win. ¬†(-)
  • My vice presidential bet did win. (+)
  • Had my article published on Inquirer’s Youngblood. ¬†Dream come true! (++)
  • Found out Possible One True Love had a girlfriend all along and his girlfriend was pregnant. (-)
  • Finished an original song for POTL. (+)
  • Sir Danny died. (-)
  • Celebrated Inoo’s 7th birthday! (+++)
  • Ate Tin came home from Jeddah. (++)
  • Got duped by Church Boy. (–)
  • Finished another original song. This time, for CB. (+)
  • Made lots of poems. (+)
  • Ferdinand Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. (———- to infinity and beyond)
  • Spent Christmas with my family in Cebu. (++)

And here are the goals for 2017:

  1. Complete reverse 52-week money challenge.
  2. Visit 10 museums.
  3. Visit 10 churches.
  4. Go on a solo non-business trip.
  5. Join a vegan cooking class.
  6. Organize a charity event.
  7. 52 blog entries.
  8. Have braces.
  9. Pay off credit card debt.
  10. Join a contest.
  11. Get published.
  12. Read 12 books.
  13. Go cruelty-free on at least one non-food area.
  14. Perfect a vegan and gluten-free cake recipe.
  15. Get passport.
  16. Achieve bikini body and wear a two-piece at the beach.
  17. Eat at a vegan restaurant and do a comprehensive review on blog.

Good luck to me and a have a blessed 2017 ahead, everybody!

How I Turned Vegan: a Love Story

Update: I turned vegan!

Once upon a time, there lived a girl who loved eating animals so much that every time there was no animal on the table, she got sick.  That girl was me.

If Lola were alive today, she possibly will find it hard to reconcile this young woman with her grandchild who got fevers at the idea of eating vegetables. ¬†Truth is, me, too. ¬†Although I’ve only been a vegetarian for four years, it seems my omnivorous life had been a long, forgotten time ago. ¬†This is my story.

Not Love at First Sight

Truth is I hadn’t heard of the word “vegetarian” until second year college. ¬†I became friends with a friend’s sister. ¬†At that time she was considering becoming vegetarian for the animals. ¬†I, on the other hand, was struggling over my weight.

It was just wrong timing, since I was then enrolled in an¬†Envi Sci course and my professor – the Philippines’ prince of whale sharks – had just lectured us about how humans were not designed¬†to be herbivores. ¬†Plus, he said, if the whole world went vegetarian, we have to convert land that are not fit to be agricultural to agricultural land. ¬†We will compete with the natural environment of other animals. ¬†In the end, it will be bad for the planet. ¬†Something like that. ¬†After an overnight heated text debate, we stopped being friends. ¬†(Hi, Erika!)

Hey, We Meet Again

I thought I won that stint with Erika.

Then, in third year, I had a classmate who was a vegetarian and I thought she was so cool. ¬†She didn’t make a big deal over her eating preferences; neither was she judgmental in any way. ¬†She didn’t even explain why she was vegetarian. ¬†She would just say it’s just the way things are. ¬†She just let us be while she enjoyed her animal-free fares.

I didn’t think about it then, but now I believe that’s when I began thinking about vegetarianism. ¬†In my subconscious mind, I might have decided I’d do the same someday, too. ¬†But for a different reason:¬†I envied Madel because she’s so pretty and skinny.

For All the Wrong Reasons

Years rolled by and so did I. ¬†Soon, after bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and boxes of chocolate milk, I turned into a barrel girl. ¬†At one point, I was 65 kgs (circa 2011). ¬†At 4’11, I loathed myself. ¬†I tried going to the gym but after about three months I realized I’m not a gym girl. ¬†(Actually, even now.)

Then, somewhere along the line, I heard on TV that beef is worse than pork for people trying to lose weight, since beef fat is practically invisible. ¬†I decided to make myself my own guinea pig, so I completely cut off beef from my diet. ¬†That meant saying a tearful goodbye to my favorite pinapaitan. ¬†(There’s an urban legend circulating around my family that I used to eat half a kilogram of¬†pinapaitan back in elementary days.) ¬†But after half a year of staying away from beef, Cheetos, and Chuckie – I lost weight.

That’s when I realized, it’s not gym. ¬†It’s food. ¬†If I want to lose weight, I’d have to cut down on the bad things that make me fat.

So I decided to go vegetarian. ¬†I told Papa I won’t eat animals anymore. ¬†It lasted for about two days because when Saturday came, Papa made the most delicious¬†sinigang na pata¬†(soured pork leg) and said: “This is what you’re going to miss.”

And I told vegetarianism, “I’m sorry. ¬†It’s not gonna work.”

Could We Start Again, Please?

Then, on the afternoon of Holy Wednesday 2012, I went home and found my Inoo missing. ¬†I looked everywhere but he wasn’t anywhere. ¬†I could hear him frantically barking and I followed the sound of his voice to our neighbor’s house.

Our neighbor who was a known drug addict.  I knew for a fact he killed his dog one night.

Enveloped in fear for my son’s life, I called and called on him for a whole hour. ¬†I knew he was there; I could see him from behind the curtains. ¬†But for reasons we both know, he wouldn’t come out.

I grew desperate and threatened I’d call the police. ¬†He let Inoo out.

Inoo finished two basins of water.  Then, he jumped on me, wrapping his front legs around my neck and I saw it in his eyes: fear.

That’s the exact moment I realized for the first time non-human animals¬†can feel.

Then in my mind I saw cows, chickens, pigs, fish, goats and all the other animals I’ve eaten staring at me with the same fear I saw in Inoo’s eyes.

I cried. ¬†I couldn’t eat anymore. ¬†I was stricken with so much guilt that I knew I had to do something about it. ¬†I needed peace of my mind. ¬†So I went to a Protestant Lent service with my sister.

And everything was in its perfect place. ¬†That day, the reading was from Prophet Daniel. ¬†Angel, my sister, leaned over and whispered, “He’s vegetarian.”

After the service, I ate my last animal meal: it was my mother’s pork adobo.

The Honeymoon Phase

I was vegetarian for the animals and I was in love. ¬†It was a miracle I could say no to my parents’ scrumptious cooking without batting an eyelash.

On the first two weeks, I was surviving on nothing but peanut butter sandwich. ¬†Then, I kept in touch with Madel (see above) and she taught me a couple of tofu recipes. ¬†Then, I scoured for recipes from the Internet. ¬†I was able to recreate delicious vegetable curry, a few veganized Filipino favorites¬†from the awesome site¬†Astig Vegan, and some of Chloe Coscarelli’s perfect desserts. ¬†I easily went on fruit cleanses¬†with crazy results. ¬†Soon, Angel joined me and we started on this happy journey together. ¬†In 2013, Angel and I attended a seminar in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and ate at our¬†first vegetarian restaurant: Ima’s Vegetarian Restaurant. ¬†Neither of us craved for the food we were used to; after all, we felt we could veganize everything. ¬†Everything was awesome.

We felt great.  We felt we were doing something good for the planet.  And without it being our motivation, we beautifully lost weight.

The Test

Then, Angel developed mastitis. ¬†Our eldest sister, the nurse, suspected soy. ¬†From then on, she was prohibited from soy milk and tofu and beans. ¬†She was forced to eat “normal” food. ¬†No matter how I try convincing my family that soy isn’t the cause – since how come it didn’t have a bad effect on me? – I was alone again.

Still, I persevered. ¬†Even though my family thought I caused Angel’s mastitis – she’s okay now, by the way, and she’s back to being an omnivore – I didn’t abandon my eating principles.

Suddenly, because I was alone, everything was harder than it¬†was before. ¬†I realized my friends from work weren’t inviting me when they ate out or in parties because I wouldn’t eat what they would. ¬†In 2014, I went to Iloilo and was helpless in the hands of my relatives who fed me lots of fish. ¬†Then in 2015, I was faced with different circumstances that forced me to eat animals: at Church, I felt guilty because the food came from the generosity of the poor; at my new job in the Schools Division Office, I had to become a member of the family.

Then, I fell for a man.

Unfaithful

He was everything I wasn’t looking for: the cigarette, the drinking, the cursing, the tattoos. ¬†And he loved to eat… everything. ¬†He loved meat. ¬†But I thought that he¬†was the one.

One morning, as I prepped myself, Mama said I’m going to be hard to love because I’m high maintenance.

And my friends at the office said I’m going to be a pain in the ass to take on dates because looking for a place to eat would be a challenge.

So, I tried to eat like a “normal” person. ¬†I started eating regular cakes and ice cream. ¬†I ate a bit of fish and chicken every now and then. ¬†(I guess it’s a good thing it turned out I’m allergic to chicken.) ¬†Eggs became a semi-regular breakfast fare. ¬†(I’m allergic to it, too, but I have to honest¬†that I loved¬†omelette again.) ¬†I ate marshmallows, gelatin, and regular chocolates.

So I gave up my principles.

But he didn’t take me.

Instead of going back on my way, I self-destructed.  In heartbreak I drowned myself in regular cakes and ice cream and chocolate.  I wrapped myself in cheese.  I healed my broken heart with chicken soup.

I felt miserable.  For my broken heart.  Not for the animals.

And Now We’re Starting Over Again

If it’s for health or fitness reasons, going vegetarian is impossible. ¬†For it, in my case, to be easy, it has to come from somewhere beyond wellness. ¬†The first time, the trigger moment was Inoo’s fear and the discovery about Prophet Daniel. ¬†This time, it is something that seems to have nothing to do with vegetarianism at all: the fact that the Philippine nation has gone sick.

Yes.  This is about the 6,000 killings happening in less than six months.

What’s happening in the Philippines now is appalling. ¬†An average of 30 people are killed every day. ¬†And what’s most appalling is the widespread support and tolerance¬†of these inhuman acts. ¬†There are even some sick minds cheering this savagery.

I mentioned earlier that this seems to have nothing to do with vegetarianism, but truth is it has everything to do with eating animals.  Our blatant disregard for the life of non-human animals is not at all different to this support and tolerance for bloodshed.

How miserable that it has to take 6,000 deaths to make me realize that every form of life is important.  Even non-human animals.  Even suspected criminals.

I’ve not eaten any animal or animal byproduct for sixteen days now. ¬†And you know what? ¬†This time,¬†with my new realizations, I feel strong.

I Remember the Boys: Si Savior

Sunday, 7 a.m., an April day in 2014

L,

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  This is our verse.  And the past two and a half years were our season and time and purpose.

Do you remember the first day we met?  Believe me, when you first walked through that door in your blazing red I-love-Jesus shirt, I told myself I should not come close.  You did.  My mistake was I didn’t push you away.  It was a mistake I don’t regret.  I knew right away that you were going to be my destruction.  Yes, that’s the word.  Destruction.  Deep in the memory of my cells I recognized you and how you’re going to break me down.

I was a different person back then.  You might have noticed the change.  There were reasons for the walls.  My family was on the verge of falling apart.  My friends couldn’t be there because we were physically far from each other.  My job was frustrating.  I literally lost my dreams… my will.  My wits.  I was quickly going down the disillusionment hole.  And the only person who cared was too weak to hold us both up.

And so I built the walls.  I set myself apart.  I was cold and indifferent.  And then when I was alone all I did was cry.  The rest of the world would have something that made them happy.  Do you know hell?  You were wrong that afternoon we talked about it.  There is no fire in hell.  It is void and cold and pitch-dark.  There are no souls screaming in agony.  There’s only you there.  Sometimes you’d wonder if you’re even a soul or just purposeless, meaningless dust.  Or if you even really exist.  I should know because I’ve been there for most of my life.

Until you came.  It’s not that you really did anything: you weren’t even there that much.  There was just something.  Your presence?  The awareness that you existed?  Knowing that you loved me?  Or at least wanted me.  Love is too strong a word for what we had.  Nevertheless you gave me light.  Maybe it was just a tiny slit where your light shone through and the walls came crashing down.

Deep in the memory of my cells I recognized you and how you’re going to break me.  And so when you destroyed me I wasn’t afraid.  I didn’t even want to fight back.  I just sat there and let you give me hope.

I remember what happened.  It was last year’s April.  I was on the bed.  I was reading the bible because of you.  You told me to.  I wanted to know why you love it that much.  Mind you up to now I still don’t understand.  So I was reading it, and then trying to connect to you, asking you in my head how you can believe in this.  Suddenly there was this warmth coming from within me.  It was not from my head.  It was too physical to be a figment of my imagination.  I stopped reading but it didn’t stop from expanding in all directions.  There was this sort of golden light that enveloped me, enveloped my every cell and nerve and bone.  It was painful.  It was overwhelming.  It was all-encompassing.  And then I exploded.  I cried.  My first orgasm.  And it happened with a purple-covered bible.  How can any man top that?

I understood then.  There is nothing wrong with me.  Everything I do, everything I choose will always be right.  I was hell and heaven and god.  And I understood why they say you need Jesus before you can meet god.

You might think it’s blasphemy but you’re my hot-headed, egoistic and painfully inconsiderate Jesus.  That’s how I’ll remember you.  If there’s something I regret it will only be not having anything concrete to remember you by.

We‚Äôll never see each other again. ¬†I‚Äôll be fine ‚Äď not that I think you‚Äôre even worried. ¬†I know that everywhere I go I will always hear something about you. ¬†Every time there will always be something to remind me of the past two and a half years and the person who had made it all worthwhile. ¬†What‚Äôs important is that I‚Äôve loved you with all I had. ¬†Someday I might meet someone else and get married but I‚Äôd still love you in a way.

Alis grave nil.  For all it’s worth, thanks for being mine.

-T


Wednesday, 7:39 a.m., an April day in 2015

PS

I found this letter tucked in the pages of the graduation gift which you didn’t accept.  Now, I am going to give the notebook to our new principal as a welcome present.  The letter, in cream linen paper, is going to the recycling box in ten minutes.  I could send it to your school but I’ve changed.  Much has changed.  Our time seems so long ago although just three hundred and sixty something days have passed.

Just so you know, I stopped regretting not having something tangible to remember you by two weeks since we last saw each other. ¬†It just happened. ¬†It also seems that the world doesn‚Äôt revolve you ‚Äď I haven‚Äôt heard anything about you from anyone‚Ķ not that I inquired. ¬†I still shake my water and don‚Äôt drink an hour after eating like you told me to, but that‚Äôs general knowledge now, right? ¬†And although I still won‚Äôt watch anything that has Tom Cruise in it, it probably only partly is because of you since I‚Äôve never liked Tom Cruise in the first place. ¬†And even though the tall, lean, quiet guy with the eyeglasses is still my type, that‚Äôs not really because of you: that has always been my type. ¬†I also am not getting married anymore, but I’ve never really wanted to get married.

But you were not all that bad, L.  There is much about you I am thankful for.  You might have destroyed me but the destruction was necessary.  You’ve broken down the walls.  You’ve made me vulnerable so the light can shine through.  As much as I hated you for thinking I am a lost sheep and you can save my soul, I was lost and you did save me, in your hot-headed, egoistic, painfully inconsiderate way.  And now, although it is blasphemy, you are still one Jesus.

But you’re not the only one now.  I have three more.  There is Father J, the funny, cool Jesus I envision every time I read the gospels.  There is Father P, the soft-spoken, calm, calming, seeing-him-happy-makes-me-happy, seeing-him-suffer-makes-me-suffer Jesus I pictured as a young girl.  And then there is that Jesus.

Last night, I confessed to the priest.  I told him about you and he said he can’t tell me anything anymore: I have moved on.  I have learned my lesson.  I am forgiven.  I am loved.  And I am going to be finally happy.

So, thank you.  Maybe what I had for you wasn’t love after all.  But with finding back my faith, to you I am deeply indebted.


Monday, 1:38 p.m., a November day in 2015

Hi, B.

Oo naman, kilala kita.  Sa maniwala ka at sa hindi, masaya ako to have this opportunity to hear from you.  Hindi ako magde-defend ng sarili ko; I have no right.  Ako yung 1/2 ng may kasalanan sa lahat ng ito.  At alam ko rin na hindi ka makikipag-away.  Sa mga kwento niya, sa mga nakita ko sayo nung times na magkaklase tayo, alam ko na hindi ikaw yung ganoong tipo.

Unang araw pa lang ng pagkikita namin, alam ko na na may girlfriend siya kaya wala akong excuse sa mga pangyayari. ¬†Alam ko din, dahil pinag-usapan namin, na hindi siya masaya sa mga ginagawa namin. ¬†Just so you know, I’m not proud of what happened. ¬†Hindi sa sinasabi ko na it was a dark place: no, sa totoo lang pinasaya niya ako. ¬†At that time I was in hell: I had lost my dreams, I felt hopeless, I felt like killing myself. ¬†I believe L needed to come into my life. ¬†He gave color to my world. ¬†He became my reason for wanting to live – alam mo yun? ¬†Yung excitement na mag-Sabado ulit para makita ko ulit siya. ¬†For the first time in forever, I was looking forward for something. ¬†He was the story I wanted – puno ng excitement, ng adrenaline rush, ng halu-halong emotions. ¬†I was feeling things. ¬†And he was perfect; he was everything I could ever want in a man. ¬†Mali man, pero he was my savior in a lot of ways. ¬†Habang iniisip ko kung anong sasabihin sayo, naiisip ko din na ano kaya ako ngayon kung hindi siya dumating? ¬†Buhay pa ba ako? ¬†Would I have learned how to be compassionate? ¬†Would I have learned how to appreciate life? ¬†Would I have dreams? ¬†Siguro. ¬†Siguro hindi. ¬†Despite everything, despite the fact na sa maling paraan, siya ang naglapit sa akin kay God – I was not a believer until I needed God’s forgiveness for what happened, para bumalik yung happiness ko, yung peace of mind ko. ¬†It’s just so unfortunate that in the process of finding myself, you had to be hurt. ¬†I’m sorry.

Alam ko, pinatawad na ako ni God: I’ve returned to the Church. ¬†Pero knowing now that you forgive us, na wala na akong kailangang katakutan sa past namin, I’m really, really thankful. ¬†Thank you. ¬†And I’m sorry. ¬†I’ve always known it was wrong but I was selfish. ¬†At kung ano man yung past namin, tapos na yun. ¬†And now, with this, I can finally close our book. ¬†Thank you. ¬†Thank you for your forgiveness. ¬†Thank you for your understanding. ¬†And I’m sorry that you had to get hurt. ¬†I wish you happiness.

THE END

 

Inoo’s 7th Gotcha Day

Not that I would ever wish Inoo¬†was human for I love him as he is, but if he is, yesterday would have been his 7th adoption birthday. In dog years, it’s his 50th. He’s chasing his grandparents’ age – Papa is 59 and Mama is 55 – but age doesn’t matter: he will always be my son and I, his mawmaw¬†(mama + aw-aw in our love language). Having said that…

Happy Gotcha Day, my baby! Look at him, he’s laughing! ‚̧

FullSizeRender

So… why the late greeting and no feast? Because I thought the date he came to my life and made me his happy human is August 23. Plus, we’ve always celebrated his birthday every June 22 – the birthday of his fanfiction father, Inoo Kei. Only yesterday did I find out the truth, after rediscovering this post from my fangirling days. What kind of a mother am I?!

I originally planned to bake him Chloe Coscarelli‘s pupcakes from her cookbook¬†Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, but since it was already on such short notice, I grabbed a whole¬†lechon manok on the way home which he shared with his frenemies – our four other dogs – and they were very, very satisfied.

My cousin handed him to me seven years ago (August 22, 2009) and I fell in love. I’ve never stopped falling since. I’ll never ever trade this day for anything.

Love, here’s mawmaw’s gotcha day message for God’s¬†greatest gift:

On the day God gave you to me, I had no idea that you will change my life. But you showed me that despite the instability of my emotions¬†I’m capable of a love so selfless and unconditional. You made me realize that all creatures are beings, that everyone has a soul – human or not. You gave me the experience of being a parent¬†and taught me that I don’t have to give birth to be a mother. We’ve gone through a lot and we’ll be strong until the end of time.

Like me, you are crazy. You destroy our house. You need constant attention. You don’t want to be alone. You abhor taking baths. I love you, nonetheless. Even if it means they get angry at me for letting you pee all over our house. Even if it means you eat inside the house¬†all the time so I could keep you safe. Even if it means I have to replace the curtains you tear apart. All of that, all of the sacrifices are nothing compared to the joy and color and life you give to me.

You are now a senior, my love. As much as it tears my heart knowing our years, months, weeks, days, minutes and seconds are running out, I thank God for bringing you to take care of me and make me as human as a human possibly can. The Church finds it impossible that there are dogs in heaven but let’s not lose faith: only God can decide on that. And maybe if I pray hard enough so we can be together always, maybe He will open the gates of heaven for everyone – humans and non-humans alike.

You are now 50 in human years. If you were human, you’d be like my father¬†and I your daughter. But you will always be my baby, that one my heart gave birth to, my son. And¬†I am your human, now and forever.

I will take care of you. Happy, happy gotcha day, love.

To Sir, with Love

John 14:1-4 ‚ÄúLet not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father‚Äôs house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.‚ÄĚ


He would call me “Trexie” and would ask for favors involving the computer: making programmes and certificates, fixing viruses, transferring documents to presentations, downloading pictures, attaching documents¬†in emails. He would gently admonish me – like a father should – whenever I wore inappropriate clothing. He would drive us to the city proper after office hours. He would ask me why I wasn’t in¬†the Cathedral¬†sometimes. (He always attended the 6:45 a.m. Mass on Sundays. As a member of the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators, we have a rotating schedule so we don’t have the same time slot every time.) As a Catholic, he was one of the few people at the office who supported my discernment for becoming a nun. He would give me chocolates and tell me stories of his youngest daughter who works with my older sister in a hospital in Jeddah. And whenever I get¬†reprimanded for things in and out of my control, he would always have something to say to make it¬†better. Once he said: “We’re not children anymore. We know our job. [People]¬†should stop treating us like children.”

This is how I will always remember Sir Danny – one of the kindest people I have ever known.

I first met Sir Danny when I was still working in a public school. He was a MAPEH (Music, Arts, PhysEd and Health) teacher back then. He was also the interim division sports coordinator, so he often held meetings at [my] library. We weren’t really friends then. We just happened to be in the same place¬†at the same time.

Later on, he would become a division supervisor and I the division librarian. Since then, I have come to know him as a father-figure. And although we have been together in the same office for just over a year, I had learned to love him, much like my own father, because they share¬†many attributes in common. He is a soft-spoken, level-headed man. And he has this contagious passion for sports. And he inspired and¬†surprised¬†us a lot when, during our department’s year-end reporting of accomplishments, Sir Danny turned out to have made so much. He has never bragged of his accomplishments¬†so we never knew. For me, he is the epitome of the cliche, “Silent waters run deep.”

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November 2015, Baguio City. From Sir Danny’s camera and used without permission.

After 41 years in the Department of Education, Sir Danny retired on June 30, 2016. But this wasn’t without much sadness. He had spent two thirds of his life in this institution that, he said, he didn’t know what to do once he retired. He was 63 but I know if not for health reasons (he slipped in the bathroom a few days before, he said, causing bruises on his arms and knees), he would work until he was forced to retire by government policies. I was personally affected. He joked that his wife was excited for him to retire so he could help around the house. And after our small celebration for his last day in service, I saw him wiping tears with his arms as he walked back to his car. That image will be etched in my mind¬†forever.

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June 30, 2016, McDonald’s San Jose City. From¬†Ma’am Tess’ Facebook¬†and used without permission.

Then, yesterday, a little more than a month since he retired, I read on a teacher’s Facebook timeline that Sir Danny was in the hospital. My heart broke. Then, his fellow supervisor sent me a message saying he was brain dead and the family was just waiting for his youngest daughter to come home. My heart shattered.

As I began¬†the original version of this piece three hours ago, I had the feeling I should be at¬†the hospital, not just for¬†a corporal work of mercy, but for my love for Sir Danny. Please, Lord,¬†I prayed, give me courage. I haven’t seen his family before, so¬†please give me¬†the courage to be there.¬†And please take care of Sir Danny, Your son. Now his life is in Your hands. ¬†When I left the office, three of the supervisors just arrived from Baguio City and were on the way to visit Sir Danny. My prayer was answered at once: I had the courage to be there. And so I went with them. Ma’am Sierma – the Math supervisor – reminded me not to cry and to be strong “para sa Tatay mo.”¬†I had to turn my head away lest they see the tears brimming in my eyes.

We arrived at the hospital at around 11:26, headed straight to Room 211. The nurse stopped us on the way. Sir Danny had died at around 11:08.

Just around the time I posted the original version of this piece.

As I was writing the earlier version, I was refusing to refer to him in past tense. I was refusing to even think this would happen. I was hoping for a fairy tale ending: that he would wake up, followed by a happily ever after. But this isn’t a fairy tale.

On the day I learned of Sir Danny’s retirement, I cried because of how lonely it would feel not to have my father-figure around anymore. But I was happy for him, too. Like many other teachers who had dedicated their life to the profession, Sir Danny had a lot of catching up to do with his family. He had spent four decades of his life taking care of other people’s children, taking away the time he could have spent with his own. He himself said, finally, he can take¬†care of his wife now, take her to vacation, be with her. Finally, it’s time for his family.

On his retirement day, I cried because I will miss him terribly. But I knew I would be seeing him around anyway. He will be in the Cathedral every Sunday at 6:45 in the morning. He will drop by the office once in a while. Or I’ll see him in the market after Mass, just as Sir Allan¬†would say.

Now, not anymore.

Now, I grieve. I grieve because I was a few minutes late. I grieve because I had felt I should be in the hospital earlier but I was scared to go alone. I grieve for him not being able to take his wife to Pagudpud. Most of all, I grieve for his youngest daughter, his baby.

He had become my father in spirit, after all. I haven’t thought that just by his being there, just by his showing bits and pieces of kindness,¬†a person can touch a life. I know that the sadness I feel right now pales in comparison to how his real children, his grandchildren and his wife feel. But I am with them.

But at this moment, I choose to remember the beauty of the one year I’d known him. I choose to remember his kindness. I choose to remember how much of a grace he was… he¬†is to people whose lives he touched.

Thank you, Sir Danny. I¬†know¬†you’re sitting there in heaven, in your infamous Figure Four Leg Clamp.

I know you know: we love you.


Revelation 21:4¬†He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.‚ÄĚ